Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Photographs’ Category

From the creative kids of Bed-Stuy (okay, one was in Clinton Hill but close enough):

Snowman using fruit and veg . . .

Snowman Monk. Or musician:

Monk Snowman in Clinton Hill

And finally, something, I’ve never seen before – a snowman PacMan game:

Pac Man Snowman in Bed-Stuy

Pac Man Snowman in Bed-Stuy

Pac Man Snowman in Bed-Stuy

Pac Man Snowman in Bed-Stuy

Read Full Post »

Some Graffiti and wall murals from around Bed-Stuy:

 

Man with shopping cart

Man with Shopping Cart

This mural appeared a couple of weeks ago at the corner of Greene and Classon, on the wall of a store advertising ‘International News’ on it’s now very tattered awning. The store has been closed as long as I’ve been in the area – five years – but I think I’ve seen the man in the mural around the neighborhood, though not for awhile. A guy asleep on a chair usually inhabits this space but I haven’t seen him around for awhile either.

 

Mural For Nucy

Mural For Nucy

Corner of Greene and Macy. Along with the Holy Quaran picture on the right, the blocked off windowframe has votive candles.

 

 

Community Mural

Community Mural

Community Mural on Green, corner of Nostrand.

 

Read Full Post »

Shot in the spring. Most of the graffiti has been cleaned off the street now . . . since gentrification is just around the corner. Literally. 

Doorway

Doorway

Read Full Post »

I had the honour of being invited to attend a forum on the Brian Lehrer show called Dollars and Sense of Blackness in Central Brooklyn yesterday. I didn’t have much to contribute since I”m basically a part-time – if long-term part-time –  resident of New York and Brooklyn and the other people on the panel and in the audience had much more acute, pressing and pointed concerns than I would have done. However it was a good insight into the forces at work in Bed-Stuy and communities like Bed-Stuy and I’ll be commenting on the experience, and those concerns, in the days to come. 

Also, one of my photographs, ‘Girls Jumping Rope in Bed-Stuy’ appears on the website.

Read Full Post »

 

Building on Queen street West

Building on Queen street West

 

 

Street Art on Queen St. West

Street Art on Queen St. West

Read Full Post »

 

CN Tower shrouded in lingering Presbyterian fog

CN Tower shrouded in lingering Presbyterian fog over Planet Toronot

On Planet Toronot, they have erected a monument to their most salient and indeeddefining trait, a pervasive and all-consuming insecurity. This monument, seen shrouded here on a winter’s afternoon in the Presbyterian fog which continually pervades the city, is principally designed to attract the attention of neighboring Planet America yet no one in Toronot is surprised that the Americans, as they are known, pay no attention to the tower – or Planet Toronot – whatsoever.

   In fact the Tower is designed to be ignored, not just by the Americans, but by all the other planets in the sphere, thereby reminding the Toronotians of their inconsequence, and reinforcing their insecurity . . .

Read Full Post »

The Mall in all it's glory

The Mall in all it's glory

You wanted it . . . you got it.

The most popular posting on this blog has nothing to do with Brooklyn Obama Art Culture  or even Planet Toronot  but . . . .

The Elephant and Castle Shopping Mall.

helpful orientation map at Walworth Rd. entrance

helpful orientation map at Walworth Rd. entrance

Britain’s oldest indoor mall, like the Heygate Estate behind it, is part of an earlier regeneration scheme for the Elephant Castle, which had been devastated during WWII. The mall , like the Heygate Estate and pretty much everything else in the Elephant, is slated for demolition to make way for another attempt at ‘regeneration’, though the mall likely won’t be torn down until 2012 – at the earliest. 

It’s easy to hate the mall, and up until a couple of years ago I basically did. In the late 80’s, it was depressing, and the tunnels that fed into it from the nightmare roundabout were not just depressing but sometimes even dangerous. Packs of kids hung around the mall, especially on the upper levels, along with more than a few drunks. The few cafes were dingy, served terrible food; the garish reds and pinks, the muzak, the vandalized phone boxes, made it seem like some awful caricature of the malls I’d left behind in North America. 

 

Perhaps it was just familiarity, even sentimentality, but eventually . . . while I can’t say I came to love it ,  I had to admit a sneaking affection came over me when I lived on the neighboring Heygate a year ago. 

Columbians had taken over many of the stores on the upper level. They served great coffee, and you could sit and watch the waves of pedestrians in and out of the concrete terminal of the neighboring train station. There are two kiosque type places, and La Bodeguita, a Columbian restaurant with big glass windows that plays Columbian music out into the mall, offsetting the muzak classical drifting from the ceiling . . . 

Cafe on second floor

Cafe on second floor

Underneath the railway arches, where there’d been the original raver’s clubs back in the 80’s, were more cafes with more good coffee and that rarity of rarities in London: good, cheap food. They also have South American music, films. Nice place to hang out for a half hour or so. Up the street was a bike shop, with the bikes stacked up outside.  

Columbian Cafe underneath Railway arches

Columbian Cafe underneath Railway arches

The Charlie Chaplin pub had been taken over by squat Latin American men with profiles straight out of the great Mayan frescoes. The first time I went in, I thought I was hallucinating and that I was back in New York. 

The Elephant's most famous citizen

The Elephant's most famous native son

The murals. The kids breakdancing on thursday (or was it wednesday) evenings, inhabiting the airport lounge space on the second level, almost out of sight as you went by for the train. The great used booksellers on the lower level (I never had the money to actually buy any books, but that’s London for you). The Chinese Herbal medicine place by the 2nd floor entrance advertising remedies for ‘man problem’. 

Pink elephants racing through the mall

Pink elephants racing through the mall

And the market, open most days, running through the concrete cavern next to the mall. ‘Cheap and cheerful’ clothes, some electronics – mostly junk by and large. But I’d stop at the fruit and veg market just beside the ground floor entranceon the way home. For London, it was almost cheap and the young South Asian guys who ran it were always friendly, a welcome pause after the frenzied, usually alienating ride home.  

Market on a weekday afternoon

Market on a weekday afternoon

Curiously the Super Bowl was still in use. I didn’t know people still bowled in the Elephant or anywhere else, but on the weekends and evenings, I’d see families going up and down the escalators. There was some sort of patio bar place on the roof behind the Super Bowl and there always seemed to be people out in the evenings, even in winter  . . . 

Entrance to the Super Bowl on the airport lounge upper level

Entrance to the Super Bowl on the airport lounge upper leve

The mall is decrepit certainly, but it’s that  very decrepitude allows people like the Columbians, the market, the used booksellers to flourish. Once it’s gone, the Elephant will look just like any other part of London – that is to say, homogenized, gentrified – and boring. If they do blow up the Heygate this summer and, as expected, not have the money to put up anything in it’s place, how will the mall be in one year, two years time? What will happen to the booksellers, Columbians, the South Asians in the market? Whither the Elephant?

For more (and continuous) posts about the Elephant, please visit my other blog: livefromtheheygate

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »